Projects
My life at work - the trials & tribulations!!

Marketing.. the way it should be taught!!

7:50 PM
Professor at IIM was explaining Marketing concepts:

You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and say, "I'm very rich. Marry me!" That's Direct Marketing.

You're at a party with a bunch of friends and see a gorgeous girl. One of your friends goes up to her and pointing at you says, "He's very rich. Marry him." That's Advertising.

You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and get her telephone number. The next day you call and say, "Hi, I'm very rich. Marry me." That's Telemarketing.

You're at a party and see a gorgeous girl. You get up and straighten your tie; you walk up to her and pour her a drink. You open the door for her, pick up her bag after she drops it, offer her a ride, and then say, "By the way, I'm very rich. Will you marry me?" That's Public Relations.

You're at a party and see a gorgeous girl. She walks up to you and says, "You are very rich.." That's Brand Recognition.

You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and say, "I'm very rich. Marry me" She gives you a nice hard slap on your face. That's Customer Feedback !!!!!

You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and say, "Im very rich. Marry me!" And she introduces you to her husband. That's Demand and supply gap.

You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and before you say, "I'm very rich. Marry me!" She turns her face towards you ------------ she is your wife!
That's competition eating into your market share.
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The Marketing Mouth

1:13 AM
A new approach to Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing.
(actually the same old wine in the same old bottle)


The basic principles of WOM apply to both consumer and B2B challenges. We’ll focus on B2B here, since that’s the industry I’m currently servicing. These are the tenets, not to be forgotten.
  • A happy customer is the greatest endorsement (All’s well if they’re well)
  • Give the customers a voice (They will not be well – if you cannot diagnose their problems correctly. And guess what – you gotta let them tell you about it)
  • Listen to the consumers (and you have to listen to them)
  • Engage the community (Build a bond. They have to trust you to be able to tell you)

WOM transmissions occur in several ways. Here are a few:

  • A conversation concerning a referral
  • A comment on a message board
  • A letter to the editor
  • A product or book review
  • An email A post on a blog (again – lets focus on this one – the Blogsphere has arrived. It’s time we accepted that and gave them their time in the sun – I’ll put up a post on this sometime in the near future)

When you are designing programs, be honest and authentic. I do believe that full disclosure actually aids in the success of a WOM marketing program.

1. Sleaze sells short term. Values start slow – pick up momentum, and persist. We must understand that lying, and spam in any fashion all smell like dead fish and will only harm our efforts in the long run.
2. Research: Listen, observe, monitor and mine your data.
3. Customer relationships matter. Manage them: Provide consumers with tools to talk back, respond in a timely manner and personalize.
4. Grassroots: Reach out and inform.
5. Create evangelists: Find the influencers and build affiliate and direct marketing relationships.
6. Paid and earned media: Mix up your media, buy it, and deserve earning it.
7. Change the approach from "at you" to "with you". Campaigns that are generated by both the consumer and marketer will have much stronger legs.
8. Businesses need to be interesting to get customers interested.
9. WOM programs need to be integrated into many aspects of a company's operations, not just marketing -- product development, marketing, customer support. The more integrated the programs, the more successful they will be.
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The Written word (Part2)

2:52 AM
Readability

It is nothing more than a clear style of writing. People apply mathematical formulae to the length of sentences, the use of abstract words and such. But those are merely guidelines. Writing was not meant to be inflexible...

It is vital to keep in mind a few principles for the written piece.

· Reader’s level
It is common sense that one does not use flowery language in business communication and jargon in poetic construction.

· Sentence construction
Good things come in small packages. It is quite true that long, rambling sentences wear out the reader. At this point he sent me off to search for my Wren & Martin high school grammar book. He was pleasantly surprised that I had preserved a copy of it 13 years after school.

· Paragraph construction
Use a topic sentence and focus on a single idea for a paragraph. If the idea is a big one (as some of them are), split it into subtopics rather than 10 pages of continuous unbroken type.

· Familiarity of words
It doesn’t really matter if you constructed the sentences well, if you give a medical journal to a business manager. The same would hold true in reverse. Use of jargon is good when this shop-talk reduces the time spent in explaining ideas to like minded individuals. My usage of Project management jargon to all aspects of communication (written and verbal) needs to be curtailed. Every-time she says I don’t understand her – I state that the requirements document was not signed off and hence these extra rounds of review.

· Reader direction
Where are you leading the reader? The lack of paragraph framing coupled with ineffective transitions between paragraphs can befuddle the reader. He talked about sub-conclusions to be used towards paragraph endings. I didn’t quite agree with him on that. This would be painful for readers if they had to revise ideas at the end of every paragraph. That was the instructor in him talking – I guess!

· Focus
The purpose of the communication needs to be clear. It’s like he said, “Arjun, I’m trying to teach you to write effectively”
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The Written word.

2:08 AM
The ability to communicate is one of the aspects that make life interesting. This relates to all aspects of life – whether at home or in the work place. In fact, this is one of the prime requisites of a promotable executive.

The written word – the most powerful communication prior to the advent of visual communication has lost some of its sheen – but not the importance. It stays on record and cannot be undone.

I post regularly on my web-log. That’s what you are reading right now. I assumed I wrote well. That is, till somebody told me otherwise. It’s not an easy pill to digest. But I was luck because that somebody explained what was wrong.

What could be wrong?
· my spelling sucks
· I can’t punctuate for nuts
· the flow goes off on tangents and the structure is abysmal
· my grammar is disastrous
· The writing style is tactless and boorish.
These and many more trains of thought crossed my mind.

Then he told me that effective writing was about 4 things.
1. Readability
2. Correctness
3. Appropriateness
4. Thought
At an overview level – I thought I’d covered all these. He showed me an inventory of these attributes detailing the parameters against which I should be mapping my writing. This is good stuff.
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Changing Perspectives

9:02 PM
Every assignment brings a fresh set of challenges to the fore. It is very important to maintain a positive attitude to adapt to the situation on hand. It is vital to be able to un-learn and re-learn new tricks. This is one circus that doesn’t permit laxity.

I’m writing this piece to highlight the differences I’ve observed over the last couple of months between 2 organizations. I’ve had the pleasure of being in Lionbridge (LB) for over a year and at NIIT for a period of 3 months.

This is my personal opinion and you are welcome to debate it.
Both the organizations are in the E-Learning business for sometime now. NIIT has been around for about a decade ahead of LB. They both serve US & European clients. The parameters for effective project management remain time, cost and quality for both these behemoths.
One difference you’ll observe at the very outset is the concept of bread and butter. E-Learning is BREAD at NIIT & it’s only BUTTER for the folks at LB. Their bread is Localization. Hence the perspectives vary. There is a perceptible difference in Project Management maturity between the 2 organizations. Things that are taken for granted at NIIT are still in their infancy as far as implementation goes at LB.
Here’s a list:
  • MS Project – Enterprise edition – SAP implementation completed at NIIT. This is still in the conceptualization stage at LB.
  • Centralized budgeting – with inputs available from all PMs – completed at NIIT. The PMs at LB are less than adequately coached on the nuances of project management. Hence their exposure to budget sheets is the Revenue recognition sheet which they fill up dutifully every 28th of the month. I’m not saying that NIIT systems are perfect – but at least they’re getting there.
  • Manpower management – centralized pooling of resources allows the PM to assign members online and manage their time. This is not used effectively because the attitude towards using the system correctly hasn’t been developed. The folks at LB may not be able to manage the leveling of resources for want of a system. The PMs at NIIT wantonly avoid the basic use of the system and leave it at that. So, they end up having resources assigned 500% tasks on any given day. Only adds to the frustration.
  • The folks at LB use the MPP effectively – at least to the extent that it is regularly updated and can be presented at any point of time. The systems at NIIT are not optimally used and so, while, a project plan exists, the people are not versed with MS-Project and it is rarely updated.
  • Risk sheets are vital to Project monitoring – we all know that. It’s just that either they’ll be created and forgotten or exist in the users’ heads. Both ways it’s a waste of human intellect. Even worse is the apathy that management has towards a risk sheet.
    Processes are very well defined at NIIT. We were still developing them at LB. The attitude of people towards process conformance is definitely higher at NIIT. Yes – there were folks at LB – who were highly process conforming. But they were few and far between. This again, is a Management intiative.
  • It is great to have a Standardized process – but every project, like humans - has an individuality of its own. This needs to be recognized and catered to. Processes & metrics are good – but they need to be open to discussion – as and when necessary.
  • Quality Audits were as rare as a Blue moon at LB. I’ve been here 3 months – starting up on a few projects – and have already undergone a Quality Planning and Audit session.
    Trainings – the measure of organizational maturity. I must have spent a good amount of time at NIIT getting my trainings done. It is part of my KRAs as well. We never thought of “training” at LB – unless there was a FIRE on some project and the relevant team members needed something special. We thought of Trainings before project kickoffs – but invariably – no FIRE – so NO training!!!
  • SME management – tried and flunked out at LB – we’ve got a decent system going at NIIT – it’s called the VENDOME – that’s SAP to the rescue!!!
  • Infrastructure – stuff that you could take for granted while executing a project. This is an area where LB has made the maximum changes in the year gone by – that’s a positive sign.

    This is as much a critique of my actions as those around me. A few tried to do the right thing, but their efforts never got anywhere near success. It’s not intended to point fingers , just a catharsis of what I’d loved to have at LB and things that I will do at my end at NIIT.
    It’s a start!!
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Chocomania

10:53 PM
First - we steal the chocolates..!!! That's Karan... and he did not leave any for Ankur.

The Victim is not impressed. Ranit goes into varied hues and shades.
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